Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Simple Blanket

  I couldn't help it... The local discount store sent out a flyer that listed Bernat Blanket yarn for an awesome price. I didn't need more yarn. I just need to finish my house so I can unpack the yarn I still have. But I just couldn't help it! I only went to the store to see what colors they had available, and somehow a bunch of it ended up in my basket. Oops! Well, long story short... A blanket happened:

Bernat Blanket, yarn, crochet, blanket

  I'm only faking the guilt. It felt good to buy yarn all in one color (my favorite color) to make a blanket that I want. It's plain, it's black, and I love it. It is also very, very warm! I've wanted to work with Bernat Blanket for a while, but always found it a bit out of the budget for the amount you get in a ball. (It made my Wednesday Wishlist back in 2015 and I still haven't tried it!) Since I didn't get a chance to go to Ollie's until two days after the sales flyer was released, I expected to find this yarn already gone. I lucked out and started digging through a box full of yucky bright colors to find all I could find...

  Eight balls of "Coal". Only eight. Remaining colors: Bright pink (yuck), bright yellow (ugh), bright green (blech), and orange (NO). Not a single ball of a nice color like grey or white. So I hoarded the last of the good color and hoped I could make something from it.

Bernat Blanket, yarn, crochet

  I was worried about buying it from the discount store. The motto at Ollie's is "Good stuff cheap", and I love the place... But I've found that not all of their stuff is so great! I had a frustrating experience with a box of trash bags that were split up the sides, and I would never consider buying their "slightly irregular" clothing (some of which looks more like factory defects), but I had to take the risk with this yarn.

Bernat Blanket, yarn, crochet

    It wasn't much risk at the discount price anyway. Eight balls at $1.99 comes to a grand total of $15.92. At the original price, the total would have been $55.92! But wait, there's more! Since I'm a member of Ollie's "army", I had an additional coupon for 15% off my purchase, so that reduces the price to only $13.54.

  Including tax (7.5%) brings the total back up to $14.56. I think I could afford to buy a few balls at full price if I ever decide to make the blanket a little bigger. Who knows? Maybe I'll find more on discount again some day.

Bernat Blanket, yarn, crochet, Ollie's

  As for my worries about the quality of the yarn, I have no complaints. Each time I started a new ball the center was extremely hard to find and I'd end up pulling half the ball out before I found the end. That's an issue I've also had with similar yarns so it was kind of expected. And there were a few balls that had knots between about three feet of yarn... That's always annoying but I've had the same thing happen with almost every yarn I've ever worked with. I can't condemn it for either of those small problems.


  The only thing I'm really disappointed about is that the color isn't worth much for taking photos. I thought this would be a good pattern to share because I was able to work out a 46" by 50" throw with only eight balls of yarn. But if I can't get better pictures, it discourages me from finishing a post with a pattern.


  Even though I like the feel of Bernat Blanket, I'm not interested in purchasing more unless I can get another awesome deal. It's soft. It's fluffy. And it's so heavy! It washed and dried like a dream, but it's sooooo heavy. It's really warm, and heavy. At only 46" by 50", it's like one of those weighted blankets. I thought about buying more to expand the size, but I fear making it larger might suffocate me in my sleep.

  It's the first official completed "just for me" crochet project in the new house, and I'm proud of it. But I think this throw will never get much more use than being an accent piece on the couch or a chair... If we ever get furniture! We're still sort of camping out in the living room with a futon for a bed and one of those cheap card tables with my two computer chairs for a dining set. Including the $3 deflated bean bag chair I found at the thrift store and our two plastic patio chairs, it's quite the setup.

  Which leads to house updates: Nothing! There's no progress made on installing the flooring because I'm still stuck on the laundry room disaster, but I've made the decision to hire an electrician to deal with the outlet and then we'll see if we can work out the vent afterwards. For now, my dryer plugs into an outlet that just sits on the floor and I have to stick the vent out the back door every time I do laundry. Eh, what's the rush? I'm sure that setup is entirely safe and up to code. 😬

  The good news is that Rip van Winkle went out and bought a new TV, so at least we know what his priorities are... Same as always: Turn on the TV; fall asleep with the TV at full volume; snore loudly and continuously to compete with the noise of the TV. Some things never change, but electricians can be paid to change outlets.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Holiday Throwback

  The holiday season is upon us and all I really want for Christmas is to finish my house! Of course that won't actually happen in time... You can see my updates in the last post in case you missed it. In the meantime, I'd like to remind you that there are a few simple holiday-themed projects already available here on the Crochet is the Way blog:

snowflake, winter, Christmas, holiday, free crochet pattern,


  • First, there are these Simple Snowflakes that use a modified picot stitch to create sharp points:


snowflake, winter, Christmas, free crochet pattern, easy

  Note: The links back to my tutorials on Guidecentral are no longer available... It seems I have some cleaning up to do on the blog! But you can find a photo tutorial for how to make the picot stitch in the pattern for the Eye of the Emerald Mandala.



  • Next we have a Holiday Trio of patterns which could be used as ornaments, jewelry and more:


holidays, snowflake, candy drop, Christmas tree, free crochet pattern

  Again, this is another post which contains links that no longer work, so I do apologize for the inconvenience! (I suppose that's always something I can work on getting done if I have my house finished in time for the holidays next year.) However, I do think the pattern for the candy drops is very simple to follow. Imagine making them using giant plarn and finger crochet like I did for my Giant Plarn Granny Squares!... That would make a cool yard decoration. (And the links actually work in that post, so you can get a photo tutorial and a video, too!)

  The Christmas trees are more complicated, and the snowflake earrings are probably the most difficult just because of the way I wrote the pattern. They finish in just two rounds! You could also make them with a worsted weight yarn and bigger hook for some quick decorations.



  • For the last of the snowflake patterns, there is another multi-pattern, the Snowflake Set:



snowflake, winter, coaster, ornament, Christmas, free crochet pattern

snowflake, winter, doily, ornament, Christmas, free crochet pattern

  As a bonus I'll include the link for the followup post in which I turned these pieces into a wall hanging, however, it's less of a tutorial and more of a "what NOT to do". I really should just stick to crocheting!

snowflake, winter, Christmas, wall hanging, art, doilies, holiday


  There are a few more holiday-themed patterns to be found around here, but I had some trouble retrieving more pictures. Check out the ever-popular Angel Decoration and the Magic Angel as well.

  Also if you're interested, the Holly Holiday Table Runner is for sale in my Ravelry store:

crochet pattern, Ravelry, holiday, table runner, holly, Christmas

  Please enjoy these patterns while I remain on hiatus. I'm eager to return to working on new patterns, but this house is just... What's the word I repeatedly used in the last post? UGH.

  I was happy to finally get my washer and dryer hooked up until we realized that the dryer vent hookup is pushed too far into the wall to actually use as a hookup... And then there's the outlet that came out of the wall when we moved the dryer back out to fix the vent... UGH again. Spray-foam insulation is NOT the proper way to attach an outlet to the wall! I'll save the pictures of that mess for the next house-update post.

  Until then,

Happy Crocheting!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

From Crochet to Construction Worker

  After another lengthy absence from the blog, I have a ton of WIP photos to share with you. However, there's not much crocheting going on around here anymore! I can't say I'm not crocheting at all because I have had a few projects on the hook recently... But for the past year my main job title has gone from crocheter to construction worker. At least I can share with you the first completed (crochet) project since we bought our nightmare new house:


  This crochet kit has a short story: My stepdaughter is learning to crochet (yay!), and she asked for some help with this "easy" project. I'll give that kit a short review of "not for beginners". Requiring single, double and triple crochet stitches, along with embroidery to complete the facial features... Plus fringe and sewing on a button? I wouldn't consider this an easy project for a beginner! (It wasn't all that easy for me with the sewing and embroidery, either.) 

  Sure, the package contains everything you need, but much of it fell short on quality. The DK weight yarn has a loose twist that splits easily, you barely get enough yarn to finish the project (no room for mistakes), and even the included yarn needle had a too-small eye that made threading the yarn a pain.

  That's all the crochet I can share with you after almost a whole year. The rest of my "WIP" photos might be a warning of why not to buy a foreclosure house unless you're prepared. The good news is that we're moved in now, but the bad news is that we're living in the middle of a construction zone. Boy, does this house have a long story which will require more than one post to finish! Here's a great place to start:

    
  I prefer to not have more colors on my walls than in my yarn stash. Painting the house was the easiest thing I could get started on, so as soon as we got the keys I began filling all those holes. Even that couldn't be an easy job because of the weird things I kept finding along the way, such as "what is this wire for and why was it painted to the wall?" and later discovering that every window had one of those wires painted to the wall around it. Thankfully, we learned it was just for an old security system. It was easy to cut the wires off the rest of the way and patch the remaining holes.


   So why couldn't the previous owners do the same before they painted? More on that later... There are so many questions we'll never answer, like: Who thought it would be a good idea to hang that shelf (the bulky thing on the floor) from nothing but drywall? Why did they remove almost all the kitchen cabinets? (Not shown in the next picture: Why did the remaining cabinets not go all the way to the wall even though the counter top did?)


  Maybe the answers were in the biggest question I kept asking while working: What is that smell? Marijuana was that smell and it would get really heavy at times, overpowering the scents of urine (yuck) and what I presume was carpet powder used to cover the smell of the urine. Once we started finding drug paraphernalia stashed in random places, I stopped trying to answer the questions of why. I just assume drug use had something to do with forgetting to paint the walls all the way to the ceiling:
  

  As soon as we found the burnt glass tubes stashed under the edges of carpet and in light fixtures, the answer became even more clear: This wasn't absentmindedness caused by smoking weed... We're dealing with some screwed up crackhead stuff here. That helps explain the window sills that fell off because they had been glued on, along with the double light switch that only operates the exhaust fan in the bathroom while the real light switch is on the other side of the wall:


   Should I bother mentioning another color on the walls, or the vanity that is chest-height on me? Oh, there were so many more problems just in that bathroom alone. But we can move along, because there's plenty more problems rooms to tour. Yup, plenty of rooms that look like the walls were used as a dartboard:


  I've patched a lot of holes and I've covered a lot of colors. I now have the experience to inform you that it takes two coats of primer and two more coats of paint to cover a color like this:


  The dark room was supposed to be my office, but it has now been changed to the kid's room. And that's because the room that was supposed to be the kid's room still looks like this:


  The most I can say about that situation is "UGH". Let's move on to what we found when we removed (what was left of) the kitchen cabinets:


    WHY? What were they thinking when they cut through a main stud in the wall to fit in a diagonal drain pipe that is ridiculously far away from the water lines? I know exactly what happened here... They moved the sink over from its original location, and had enough skill to move the water lines. But when it came to tying in the new drain pipe to the (much-needed) vent pipe... Um, NO. That's not how you do it! 

  Thankfully, Rip van Winkle has enough plumbing experience to fix that problem. It took some thinking and some fighting with it, as well as a few trips to the hardware store, but we finally got that situation straightened out: 


  And with my skill of patching drywall, we turned it into a proper-looking and proper-working kitchen sink... Well, I guess it's still just plumbing in this photo, but now we're able to use our fully-functioning kitchen! 


  There are still a few major problems to work on, such as the other bathroom:


  Yes, those are floor tiles used on the wall; and no, they didn't put them up the right way so they are falling off. Oh yeah, and there's another color! Not shown, I already painted the BEIGE ceiling. But who cares about the paint color when tiles are falling off the wall? (PS, grout goes in between the tiles, not over them.) I won't even show you the state of the tub in there. It makes me gag every time I look at it. Plus that tub's drain isn't plumbed into the pipe... Ugh, the whole bathroom needs to be renovated, but at least now we can use it as a half-bath.

  There are other minor problems I'd like to fix someday, like the baseboards:


  And there are other minor problems I've already fixed, like how this door casing was on top of the light switch cover:


  Actually, fixing that wasn't so "minor" after all! The doors shown above and below both needed to be replaced along with their frames, which I had a basic idea of how to do. The job ended up being more difficult because I chose to save money by going with a frame kit instead of buying a ready-hung door in a frame.

  Well, I learned how to build and install a door frame! And the previous owners had already provided an example of how NOT to do it:
 

   Oh, and we saved more money going with the frame kit because I ended up finding the non-existent bathroom door hanging on the air-handler closet which is located right in the middle of the kitchen. I guess they figured since the door couldn't close in that messed-up frame, they might as well use the door somewhere else. Because who needs a bathroom door, right?

  But the frame for that closet wasn't made for a doorknob to latch in, so the door didn't really close there, either! I reclaimed the door for the bathroom, and we purchased a much-cheaper bi-fold closet door for the air-handler. While Rip van Winkle was installing the bottom piece for that, we found the strangest situation yet:


  Is that Styrofoam under the tile? WHAT?!? It took me a while to finally figure it out. We were purchasing the supplies to install some laminate flooring, and I saw the underlayment... That's the Styrofoam stuff we found under the tile! Why would they put that under tile? Oh, I figured that out soon enough: There's another layer of tile under what you can see. They tiled over tile. And in between the two layers of tile, they added a layer of the stuff you use under laminate flooring. It's like that in both bathrooms and the kitchen. UGH.

  Well, it was easy to decide that ripping out two layers of tile is a renovation that will have to wait. For now, we'll keep dealing with the flooring that pops and cracks as you walk on it. You just have to be careful when in bare feet, because the chunks of grout that keep breaking out really hurt when you step on them.

  There are so many more messed up things I could share about this house! I was hoping to get to some before-and-after photos soon, but I have a whole 'nother post worth of "what we had to fix". I'll simply finish the complaining the "WIP's" with the most confusing thing I can't stop thinking about, even though it doesn't really matter one bit... How in the hell did they get this nail in the wall like that?


   Okay, that's more than enough for one post. I wanted to put a "big reveal" together when the whole house was done, but it looks like that will be a while! For now, I'll give you a sneak peak at how my (self-designed) kitchen turned out:


  There are handles on those drawers now, too. And last weekend, the mess in the laundry room got turned into a washer and dryer! There's still so much left to do, but it feels so good to finally have a place to call "home" again. Until next time...

Happy Remodeling!
Oh wait, I think I can remember how this is supposed to go...
Happy Crocheting!
😉 

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